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Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome or Rolling Skin Disease

by Darleen Rudnick, B.S.W., M.H.N., Certified Holistic Nutritionist

Is your cat biting at himself, sensitive to touch and showing erratic behavior?  Your cat may be suffering from Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, also known as Rolling Skin Syndrome. 

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome also known as "rolling skin syndrome," is in some ways very similar to a seizure disorder.

Symptoms of FHS:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Twitching of the tail

  • Appearing to be annoyed with the tail

  • Biting at the tip of the tail, sometimes to the point of mutilation

  • Behavior may change from loving, to scared and depressed

  • Sensitive to touch around the tail

  • Staring into space

  • Persistent, loud meowing

  • Dashing off madly and aimlessly around the house or yard

  • Rippling skin on the back just above the tail

Below are videos of a cats suffering from Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS):

These symptoms are not always triggered by unpleasant events, but can occur while you are petting your cat loving, or when touching your cat near the tail.


Factors/Causes That May Contribute to Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome
Low quality commercial treats

Low quality dry food

Low quality canned food

BHA:  A preservative commonly used in pet food.

BHT:  A preservative commonly used in pet food.

Additives in food

Red food dye


All chemical flea products:  If the product states on the label, "Hazardous To Humans And Domestic Animals", it is hazardous to your pet.

Toxic shampoos

Toxic flea collars


Lyme vaccine

Rabies vaccine

Sodium nitrate:  Proven in research studies to cause severe seizures. Sodium nitrate is found in MANY things we eat. Read the ingredient labels carefully.

Titanium dioxide:  Titanium dioxide has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ''possibly carcinogen to humans''. It is widely used to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, and toothpastes. It is also used in cosmetic and skin care products, and it is present in almost every sun block, where it helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light. It is found in cat food and should be avoided as it has been linked to some cases of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome.

Hair spray:  Do not spray when pet is in the same room.

Cigarette smoke

Pollution from chemical plants

Carpet powders

Air fresheners

Salt, Ferrous sulfate, Copper sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Monosodium glutamate in excess

Sugar:  Sucrose, corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar.

Plastic bowls:  Plastic bowls have been implicated as a health concern because the plastic may leach into the food. All plastics release some undetectable fumes, especially when heated. This out gassing means the fumes can pass into the foods that are served or stored in the bowl or container. Stainless steel or glass bowls are recommended.

Cheap ceramic dishes:  Same concern as above.

Fumes from all bathroom cleaners

Fumes from bleach

Fumes from dusting products

Household cleaners:  Household cleaners contain a chemical called formaldehyde (also known as embalming solution), which could cause severe irritation to pet's eyes, throat and skin? Some floor polishes contain chemicals that can cause cancer as well as damage to the heart, kidneys, liver and central nervous system.

Lead:  Lead poisoning can result from licking or eating wood chips on which there is lead paint. If this is a concern, a blood test can be done when doing regular blood work, but it must be specified that you would like a LEAD POISONING TEST which is not part of the normal blood work.

Paint fumes

Paint chips from lead based paint

Scented candles

Vitamins with high sodium level

Pine cleaners

How to Control Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome Naturally

A prevention plan is a simple method of enhancing the level of nutrition and making lifestyle changes. It is an attempt to address any special needs your pet may have and promote a healthy lifestyle. Below are suggestions on how to treat FHS.

Rule out other health problems

Rule out other health problems such as Thyroid, Diabetes, Cancer, Liver or Kidney disease. A health problem may be triggering these episodes.

Promote a healthy lifestyle

Poor nutrition is a direct cause of many major and minor diseases. Therefore, a commitment to optimum health and longevity for your pet must include a high quality diet.

Research has shown that a low quality diet -- meaning a diet loaded with chemicals, fillers, stabilizers, coloring agents, sodium nitrate (found to produce epileptic-like changes in the brain activity of rats that ate it regularly) and by-products -- can lead to allergies, nervousness, hypertension, diabetes, weight problems, dry skin, and many other common ailments.

A homemade diet is recommended, as this is the best you can do for your pet. However, home cooking does not fit into everyone's lifestyle and if this is the case, it is essential to choose a high quality dry or canned food.  Because of what goes into pet foods today and what does not, it is important to know how to read labels, and know the history of the company manufacturing the pet food.

Structure meal times

Some pets suffer from hypoglycemia, which is a medical term meaning low blood sugar. The causes of hypoglycemia are overproduction of insulin, excessive exercise, heredity, or an inadequate diet. Some symptoms of hypoglycemia are very similar to Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome.

Symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack are:

  • Staggering, collapse or dashing around

  • Weakness

  • Aggression

  • Moodiness

  • Glassy eyes, dilated pupils

  • Seizure

Because symptoms of hypoglycemia and FHS tend to be similar, feeding structured meals is suggested. When you feed one meal a day, your pet's body produces insulin. High levels of insulin cause low levels of fat burning and high levels of fat storing, the reverse of what you may think. When insulin is not stable in the body, it throws the hormones and brain chemicals out of whack and the body starts storing fat to save itself.

Therefore, it is extremely important to feed 3~4 times a day. When you feed several small meals a day, the body burns fat more effectively, and speeds up the metabolism so your pet can burn more calories.

Recommended feeding schedule:

Breakfast:  A high quality pet food or homemade food

Lunch:  A high quality pet food or homemade food

Dinner:  A high quality pet food or homemade food

Before bed:  Snack

Snack Suggestions:

  • Hard Boiled egg

  • Scrambled egg

  • Cottage cheese

  • Plain yogurt

  • Homemade meatballs

  • Chicken

If your pet is on medication to control FHS, For Pet Health does not recommend discontinuing traditional medications cold turkey or discontinuing them at all. We highly recommend you work closely with your veterinarian. If you are interested in treating Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome naturally For Pet Health recommends a consultation  with our on-staff nutritionist.

A consultation will include a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions, all custom-tailored to your pets' personal needs. This is particularly imperative in pets with complicated health issues, or if you have done outside reading and have conflicting information.

Contact For Pet Health today and get your loved one on the path to good health.  

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